“Stephen Boyd’s Nude Scene holds up Film”, 1964 Interview

A very entertaining interview Stephen gave in 1964 concerning the hold up of “Imperial Venus” by the US censors. The movie never did get released in the USA (actually, it did, but only in 1972!). Stephen also talks about changing his acting style for the upcoming “Genghis Khan” and his admiration for John Wayne!

Stephen Boyd’s Nude Scene holds up Film

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July 3, 1964

By Dick Kleiner

Hollywood – (NEA)- You may have heard about nudes scenes in movies. When you think about this art form, you probably pops into your mind is a vision of a nude female.

Well, Sir (or madam), I’ll have you know that the nude male form is its way. In fact, at this very moment a motion picture called “Imperial Venus” is being held up by censors because of a 20-minute sequence which features Stephen Boyd with (theoretically) nothing on.

Boyd insists that the scene isn’t ‘naughty’. As he explains it, he plays a man who is very tired from riding hard for eight days, and when he gets to the home of his girlfriend (Gina Lollobrigida) he can’t’ stay awake. So she and her maid undress him and put him to bed.

“It’s farcical and funny, “Boyd says, “And this trouble is, it’s such an important scene and such a long scene that it can’t be cut. There would be nothing left of the movie if it were.”

Of course, all this furor about nude scenes overlooks the incontrovertible fact that Lassie has been doing them for years.

Boyd doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with them. He does divulge a trade secret – nudes in nude scenes are never nude.

“The girls,” he says, “Always wear a flesh colored something. IT’s so thin and light you can’t tell they have anything on even when you’re right next to them. I guess it makes them feel better.”

 He admits he wore something of the sort, too, but to the censors it apparently didn’t make a fig-leaf of difference. The Italian-made “Imperial Venus,” which has enjoyed a healthy run and gotten fine notices in Europe, he says, is apparently permanently stymied outside out gates.

Boyd is heading for Europe again, to play the heavy in a big costume epic, “The Golden Horde.” One of his most successful roles was as the heavy, Messala, in ‘Ben-Hur.’ But this time he is adding something new.

“I have finally learned,” he says, “that I must add IT. It is hard to define, but it’s something the top actors have.

“You see, I’ve always been taught, and practiced, that the best acting is the most truthful acting. If you’re supposed to be dejected, act dejected. But I’ve recently discovered that if you are truthful you can be dull. Real, truthful dejection just appears dull on the screen.

“What the leading actors have is something more than truth – they are always alive, never dull. If it means they must sacrifice truth, OK. I’m going to try it in “The Golden Horde.”

 “The thing an actor must do, I have concluded, is to get himself, and add a pinch of art.”

Boyd says he has learned to have great respect for some of Hollywood’s leading men who are not ordinarily considered great actors.

 “I have tremendous admiration for Duke Wayne,” he says. “He gets some of the toughest parts, parts which take the most ability.

 “To make something out of these parts, Wayne becomes Wayne. It sounds easy, but it is very difficult.”

Below, photos from “Imperial Venus”, which was not allowed to play in America in 1962

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Stephen Boyd talks about his proudest moments on stage and screen, and working with William Wyler!

Always a little too self-critical, Boyd was asked once in a a “Movieland” Magazine interview in December of 1962 to critique his own work. The answers may surprise you!

 “Tell me – even though you feel you’ve done nothing to deserve the current interest in you, what performances do you feel proudest of?”

“In motion pictures?”

“No, you can include the stage, TV and radio if you like.”

He tilted his head thoughtfully. “The best performance I ever gave in my life was Stanley Kowalski in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’  The second best performance that I ever gave was the part of Dr. Miller in ‘The Deep Blue Sea.’ Both were on the stage in London.” He leaned forward, counting now n the fingers of one hand. “And probably Number Three is a performance I gave on television in London in a play called ‘Barnett’s Folly.’ I played a very shy, weak young man. Next I would put ‘The Man Who Never Was.’ And somewhere in there I’d put ‘Ben-Hur.’ But only the death scene. It was the only thing I liked in my performance, the only thing where I felt I was getting close to what I wanted in that picture.”

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Boyd as Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire”

Boyd also continued to speak about filming “Ben-Hur” and working with director William Wyler.

BEN-HUR

Stephen Boyd Rarity: “Born for Trouble”, 1955

A lost TV show!  I would love to find Stephen’s appearance on it!!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Aggie

Born for Trouble,  or The Adventures of Aggie is a black-and-white sitcom starring Joan Shawlee in 1956 that was made by ME Films and broadcast on ITV.[1][2]

It lasted for one series of twenty-six episodes. Also being aimed at the American market, it was broadcast in the US from December 1957 under the name Aggie. It was written by Martin Stern and Ernest Borneman.

Aggie Anderson was an American working in London as a fashion buyer for an international company. Her job required her to travel often, and when abroad she often got into various troubles and accidents. These situations were often dangerous, and would involve spies and criminals.

Many of the actors who made guest appearances in episodes would later gain a higher profile, these include Patrick AllenStephen Boyd, Dick Emery, Edward Mulhare,Christopher Lee, Patrick McGoohan, John Schlesinger and Anthony Valentine.

Would Stephen Boyd actually die for Sophia Loren?

In 1963, when Stephen Boyd was first introduced to his co-star Sophia Loren, he was at once enamored and intimidated.  Sophia Loren was not only beautiful but famous, Oscar-winning, influential and physically awe-inspiring. Sophia was unusually tall for an actress- she stood at 5 foot 9, meaning she almost matched Stephen’s height. Of course she was built to be worshiped, with a very generous bust and curves to match elsewhere. Even though in person was warm and down-to-earth, she was also dark-haired and exotic, which for Stephen was the perfect poison. Like most of Sophia’s co-stars (Charlton Heston being the exception here), Stephen was smitten. Of course, being the gentleman and professional he was, it went no further than dumb-founded admiration. Sophia was married to her mentor Carlos Ponti, although Stephen does tease about this in a later interview.  Apparently his affection towards Sophia was reciprocated in a friendly way. Sophia wanted Stephen to co-star with her in “Lady L” . They would have been great together in this! But unfortunately that part went to Paul Newman as Stephen got tied up with waiting on Anthony Mann’s “Unknown Battle”.  Stephen also hosted a Hollywood dinner party for Sophia, according to Louella Parsons,  when she came to Hollywood in 1964.

Well, good for Stephen Boyd. He’s going to give a party. Practically unheard of among Hollywood bachelors who seem to think our ‘shortage of eligible men’ famine entitles them to be forever a guest – never a host.

But Steve is making elaborate plans for his debut as a party-giver in late January. His guest of honor will be Sophia Loren, Steve’s co-star in “Fall of the Roman Empire” who will be in town then.

“I don’t have a big house,” says Steve,” so I’ll probably take over Chassen’s. But I want to do all the decorations, plus a dew surprises, myself.” (Anderson Daily Post, Louella Parsons, Jan 1, 1964)

Here are some quotes from Stephen about the Italian goddess herself, Sophia Loren.

“I was supposed to have come between Brigitte Bardot and Roger Vadim, Sophia Loren and Carlos Ponti, and to have driven Dolores Hart to the convent.”  Boyd characterizes all such reports with an expletive that translates as ‘baloney’ – (Abilene Reporter, Sep 4, 1966)

After describing the discomfort of Roman armor while kissing his co-star, Stephen said,  “Only Sophia makes it worthwhile.”  (The Bridgeport Post, February 16, 1964) https://stephenboydblog.com/2017/04/08/stephen-boyd-kissing-sophia-tough-when-youre-in-armor/

With a sudden, slightly startled smile, he answered my candid question (Gina Lollobrigida or Sophia Loren?)  “There is no comparison. I wouldn’t die exactly for Sophia, but I’d come close to it.”  (Erskine Johnson interview Stephen Boyd, Aug 7, 1963)

“Sophia would be my favorite if I had one. She is not the most attractive lady in the world at first glance but, my God, two seconds later you felt you were in a dream world. Just for her to say ‘Hello’ was enough. You just capitulated. For me she is the most beautiful person I’ve ever met.”  (Photoplay, 1976)

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“I was afraid of Sophia”

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“Fantastic Voyage” Remake??

I dread to mention yet another Hollywood remake of a film classic, but yes, it seems a remake is in the works for “Fantastic Voyage” with director Guillermo Del Toro (“Crimson Peak”) and producer James Cameron (“Titanic”) at the helm. Oh how I wish Hollywood would just steer clear of these remakes, considering how abysmal the new “Ben-Hur” turned out to be! At this moment it is still in pre – production. Icon and original “Fantastic Voyage” cast-member Raquel Welch seems to be up to date on the happenings, as she continues to report on Facebook. In the meantime, least anyone forget the amazing original, here are some nice pics of the “Fantastic Voyage” crew, 1966.

Stephen Boyd “Behind the Scenes” Interview, 1962

Ogden Standard Examiner, Sep 16, 1962

BEHIND THE SCENES

STEPHEN BOYD

He worked hard for recognition

By Alice Pardoe West

“I never want to pour another cup of coffee,” is what handsome, rugged, Irish Stephen Boyd said on the 20th Century lot. “I poured so many when I worked in a cafeteria to keep from starving, before things broke for me in show business.”

He went on to explain that although he had a good theatrical background, he went through a bleak period in 1952-53 that was unforgettable.

“I was unable to find work either in films or the theater,” he said. “I even took my guitar and played to cinema lines waiting to get in the show in London, one night, and it was my first and only experience in that.”

He laughed and went on with his delightful sense of humor: “It brought me a pound and sixpence for a matter of two hours’ work, and I blew the lot on a meal, and that meal lives in my memory as the most wonderful one in my whole life.”

He forgets his bad moments and rejoices in the luck he had in getting the role of Messala in the film “Ben-Hur.”

“My folks even named the home I bought for them while making ‘Ben-Hur’ after the character I played in it – Messala, “ he said.

Stephen is a native of Belfast, Ireland, and he began his career with the Ulster Theater Group there. In 1950 he was given an understudy part in “The Passing Day” and later took part in many radio productions. He then tried his luck in the London theater, but had no success, until one of Britain’s top stars, Michael Redgrave saw him working as a cinema doorman and guessed that Stephen was an out-of-luck actor, and talked to him.

JOINS STOCK

This led to his joining the Windsor Repertory Company where he soon was playing leading roles, and later small film roles.  His part in “Barnett’s Folly” proved to be the turning point in his career. Film companies were bidding for his services after his portrayal. He had many excellent roles in outstanding films and in 1956 was starred with Tyrone Power in “Seven Waves Away.”

Since then he had had numerous fine parts in American films and was starred with Susan Hayward in “Woman Obsessed.”

The surprise of his life was when Ralph Edwards had him on his show, “This is Your Life.”

“That was really something,” he said.

Dinah Shore also asked him to appear as a guest star on her program and it was then that he was discovered to have a wonderful singing voice. 

“I had a lot of recording offers,” he said, “but I think I have plenty of time for vocalizing, after I get this acting business taken care of – that is, if I can sing at all.”

Stephen loves paintings and had a few on his two-bedroom upstairs apartment in Los Angeles. He likes his stereo equipment, records, books and cameras, too.

“I like to shoot home movies,” he said. “It’s fun. But my weakness is automobiles, especially sports cars. I’d but a new one every six months if my business manager would let me.”

He laughed and continued, “Do you know what I want more than anything? A cabin cruiser, so I can sail on the coastlines over the world. But that takes real money to maintain one of them.”

He has no ambition to be a pilot.

“I get bored when  I’m up in the air too long, “Besides, I don’t have to go flying to have my head in the clouds. It’s there most of the time these days.”

Some of his latest films since “Ben-Hur” are “The Big Gamble, “ “Cleopatra,” and “The Inspector.”

He was married to Mariella di Sarzana in 1958 in Rome, but they are divorced now.

How Stephen Boyd was cast in “The Man Who Never Was”, 1956

Stephen Boyd’s role in the WWII drama “The Man Who Never Was” brought him immediate attention and acclaim, and eventually led to his role in the MGM mega-spectacle “Ben-Hur” two years later. The story itself was inspired by the Ewen Montagu book, who recounts his own involvement in the British Navy to come up with a way to trick the Germans into thinking the Allied invasion would come into Greece instead of Sicily. The British took a corpse, loaded with misleading documents, and set him to sea, hoping he would be found by the Germans in an operation appropriately called “Operation Mincemeat.”  The body was found in Huelva, Spain and confounded the Germans just enough to give the Allies and advantage when they invaded Sicily to start the liberation of Italy and eventually the rest of Europe. Stephen would play an Irish spy who would go to England to try to discover is the body found in Spain was real, or fictitious.

In James Ellis’s book “Stephen Boyd: From Belfast to Hollywood”, Ellis interviews the then production assistant Dennis Van Thal and his assistant Guy Hamilton, who organized a screen-test for Stephen in Shepperton where Stephen was currently doing stage work and had been spotted by one of Van Thal’s talent scouts.

“A tall, shy young Irishman with a brogue you could cut with a knife and a pockmarked complexion which make-up soon covered. His natural nervousness was covered by intensely good manners. All I could do was try and stage the scene to show him off to his best advantage and relax his performance, which I remember was excellent  – strong, intense, but still lacking craft and experience. I occasionally ran into Stephen in the years that followed, always gentle  and courteous, and I watched with pleasure his stature grow in the screen.” (page 64)

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Stephen Boyd and fellow Irishman Cyril Cusack on the left. The two actors would be paired up again in 1972 for the excellent Hallmark Drama “The Hands of Cormac Joyce.”

Van Thal, who eventually became Stephen’s agent, was excited about the screen test and soon offered Boyd the role, even though the role had already been given to another actor. London Films mogul Sir Alexander Korda also saw the screen-test and approved of the move himself.  But the director Ronald Neame also needed to be convinced.

“Rather reluctantly I agreed to see the test, which of course featured Stephen Boyd. Dennis Van Thal had not overstated the case This was clearly a young man who was going to go a long way. He was the ideal screen actor – tremendous sincerity, integrity and a talent for grabbing your interest without resorting to histrionics. I was placed in an immediate dilemma. Dropping the other actor was not  a very kind=d thing to do and also very expensive. But on the basis of putting the interest of the quality of the film first, I dropped him and engaged Stephen.

“He played the part to perfection, giving it the realism so badly needed in a film which was 85% truth and only 15% fiction, this being the Irishman’s story.” (page 66)

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The film was released in March of 1956. A review at the time from the Ottawa Citizen describes Boyd and his own reaction to the movie.

Typical of the favorable comments is that of the mass circulation Daily Mirror” Boyd steals all the acting honors.

But Boyd says he isn’t too pleased with his own performance, although delighted with the press reviews.

“I feel I just wasn’t right. I’ve lots of room for improvement.”

Tall and dark haired, Boyd has a strong featured face that can switch from an engaging smile to a sinister menace in a flash. One press review said the most effective scenes of the film fall to Stephen Boyd and his “is the new face to notice.” (Ottawa Citizen, April 5, 1956)

Not only would Boyd catch director William Wyler’s eye in this movie, but Wyler would also cast two other actors from “The Man Who Never Was” in “Ben-Hur” ; Terence Longdon as  Drusus and Andre Morell as Sextus.

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The movie was later re-released in theaters in 1960, and obviously advertised the fact Stephen Boyd “Messala of BEN HUR” was in the movie!